Miami RedHawks (4-4, 3-1 MAC) travel to Athens to battle the Ohio Bobcats (4-4, 3-1 MAC) tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and the ESPN App (valid cable subscription required.)
For radio streaming purposes, 105.5 WXTQ-FM will have an Ohio-centric feed, while 1450 AM WMOH will have a Miami-centric feed.
This game has everything a college football fan could want:
Ohio vs. Miami is the only game being played on the 150th anniversary of college football (The first game in college football history was played on November 6, 1869, where Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4).
In addition to a 150th anniversary celebration, if Ohio wins, head coach Frank Solich will earn his 111th win as a MAC coach, surpassing the record set by Central Michigan Chippewas great Herb Deromedi.
This is the 96th meeting of the Battle of the Bricks and Miami holds an all-time lead in the series with a record of 53-40-2.
Ohio has dominated the series of late, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings.
Last year, Miami beat Ohio for the first time under head coach Chuck Martin as the RedHawks rolled to a 28-7 halftime lead and held on to win 30-28.
Huge MAC East Division Title Implications:
Both Ohio and Miami are tied for 1st place in the MAC East and a win would, due to the tiebreaker, effectively give the winner a two-game lead over the loser with three games to go.
The winner would also have a two-game lead over second place Buffalo Bulls in the MAC East race because both Ohio and Miami have head-to-head wins vs Buffalo.
The remaining schedule sets up nicely for the winner; of the three games remaining, Ohio and Miami both play the Akron Zips and Bowling Green Falcons--who currently are a combined 3-15 on the season. Suffice it to say, the winner will be a strong favorite to win at least two of its remaining three games.
Based on performance through eight games in 2019, Ohio’s offense has been better on the whole than Miami’s, Miami defense has been better than Ohio’s, and both have played very good special teams overall with the edge to Ohio.
Ohio’s offense is starting to play at a high level in MAC play after a tough non-conference schedule. Two weeks ago, QB Nathan Rourke led Ohio to victory over Kent State 45-38, with 342 yards passing, 79 yards rushing, and 4 total touchdowns.
Last week versus the Ball State Cardinals, who are first in the MAC West, Ohio won 34-21 in a rainstorm behind a great performance by Ohio’s offensive line. With the rain making it difficult to pass (four total passes in the first quarter), Ohio turned to its ground attack led by LT Austen Pleasants, LG Nick Sink, C Steven Hayes, RG Hagen Meservy and RT Marques Grimes, along with the TEs and WRs, to amass 316 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns.
Ohio’s time of possession against Ball State was almost a two-to-one advantage, at 39 minutes to 21 minutes. One reason for the advantage in time of possession is Ohio’s third down conversion rate, which ranks 13th in the FBS overall at 49%.
Miami’s defense has been one of the better in the conference, helping to lead the team to a 3-1 record in MAC play, allowing only 24.5 points per contest in MAC play.
Even with the 601 yards allowed against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Miami’s defense still ranks a solid 64th in the FBS in yards allowed per game average.
Miami’s defense is largely a team approach, getting the job done with few players standing out statistically. LB Ryan McWood and DB Sterling Weatherford share the team lead with 57 total tackles. DBs Travion Banks and Mike Brown are tied for the lead in interceptions with two each.
Miami’s offense, due to the loss of several starters from last year’s squad, is ranked 108th in the FBS in scoring with 22.8 points per game.
When Miami has the ball, I look for it to try to exploit the Ohio defense the same way it did in the first half last year, with passes to the TEs and RBs in the flats against the cover four defense. NIU had similar success with this approach in the second half of the game against Ohio this year.
The special teams units feature some of the best specialists in the country.
Ohio kicker Louie Zervos has hit 75% of his field goal attempts this season.
Punter Michael Farkas has made important contributions as the kickoff special and punter. He is adept at creating field position by pinning opponents inside the 20 on punts and pinning opponents deep on kickoffs with a variety of styles of kicks.
Miami’s kicker Sam Sloman, who has been clutch this season, is hitting 83% of his field goal attempts
Ohio is a seven-point favorite to win this one according to the folks in Las Vegas, with good reason.
Ohio is at home and has the better overall offensive and special teams units. Miami will show up ready to battle and anything can happen in a rivalry game but I see Ohio’s offense leading the way to victory if it can avoid turnovers.
Ohio 33, Miami 20.